Mary Woodward was born in Hammersmith to Irish and Welsh parents. As a child she lived in bomb-damaged Shepherds Bush, grew up on a council estate in Hertfordshire, and then studied in Liverpool. She has an English degree and a Master’s degree for research on William Morris’s early poetry from the University of Liverpool. She has worked in the Department of Education, and from 1979 to 2002 as a teacher in a comprehensive school; in 1993 she won the TES Teaching Poetry prize. After teaching HND Fashion students she went on to win the Guardian Jackie Moore Award for Fashion Writing in 2003. In 1993 she won the Poetry Business poetry competition and published Almost like Talking (Smith Doorstep). In 2008 she was awarded a place on a Poetry Trust First Collection seminar at Bruisyard Hall. Her poems have been in many magazines and frequently placed in competitions. She also has published short fiction. Two poems from The White Valentine (Worple, 2014) were Highly Commended in the Forward Prizes.